Archive for September 26th, 2008
For some reason, Mormugao, the port town of Goa, seems to be among the top 20 “most described cities” in the world! See http://wikimapia.org/#lat=15.42&lon=73.78&z=11&l=0&m=a&v=2
For a vast country which lacks adequately detailed and available maps for many of its areas, India is now finding an unexpected solution come up in the form of Google Map Maker.
Google recently extended its ‘map maker’ service to India, and within three weeks of its launch, has already drawn quite some attention to it in cyberspace.
Supporters of the project started sending messages out via the Net, urging each friends and colleagues to create their own detailed maps — by adding details of features in the villages or urban areas where they live.
Google Map Maker is a new service, from the Mountain View, California-based internet search giant. It is an attempt to expand the service currently offered by Google Maps.
In countries where mapping data is hard to come by, Google Maps is being opened up to a collaborative community effort.
This project’s goal is to obtain high-quality mapping data to be published and used on the existing Google Maps service.
“Mark your favourite spots in your city or hometown. Add features such as roads, parks, and buildings for unmapped rural areas. Tag small businesses and help users find them. Collaborate with others to map neighbourhoods that interest you,” says Google, urging participation in its India collaboration mapping project.
Located at maps.google.com/help/mapmaker/india/ the project was conceived and developed by Google’s Indian engineering team.
One needs to sign-into a free Google email account, and zoom in to the area you want to map. You can add features, names of the place, and save it. The map changes and additions are later edited by those trusted, to make sure that entries have a higher level of accuracy.
Once you ‘add a neighbourhood’, showing your interest in the area, you can be kept informed with changes made by others in that area of the map.
“Map your area of the world, right from your desktop,” Google urges Indian users in a promotional video on their product.
“Mark the well-loved family-run store where you grew up. Highlight hidden gems where you live. Tag popular hangouts where you went to school,” says Google.
It’s logic is to urge wider community participation, a strategy that usually works in an online world where thousands participate, and each one of ‘the crowd’ contributes a small piece of information.
Google Map Maker was launched in India in end-August 2008.
Commented ContentSutra.com, an Indian digital news monitor: “Considering the success of Wiki-Mapia in India, it isn’t surprising Map Maker was a product developed by Google’s Indian engineering team.”
In late 2006, news-reports said Mumbai had become the most-mapped city on the planet, via the Wikimapia volunteer-driven network.
Infact, among the Top 20 “most described cities” in the Wikimapia world are Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Mangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram, Mormugao (Goa), Vizag and Indore. Bombay or Mumbai is rated the highest.
Critics of Google Map Maker, such as the collaboratively-crafted Wikipedia, however have raised issues about the fact that unlike OpenStreetMap, which provides its map data under a sharable Creative Commons license, any maps created by users of Google Map Maker are the intellectual property of Google.
Some issues of security and mapping have also been raised, in a country where the official approach towards maps has a legacy which gets traced to the colonial British attitude over the same.
Yesterday, when I took Riza (“amost 10″) over Bookworm, Sujata Noronha (no relative) buttonholed me and re-asked about setting up a blog. Feeling guilty, because VM and me had been discussing the possibility of a website for them for some time now, I tried something that might help to get started.
WordPress (because it’s Free Software) is my favourite blogging software. So I grabbed their comp, and helped to set up a rudimentary blog of sorts. Check it out here. Later in the night, during my nocturnal hours, added some of the posts that Bookworm has been sending to my address.
I really think Bookworm is an innovative project, and needs our support. If you feel like helping in anyway, do lend a hand. It’s a good cause… (and I’m not saying this just because my daughter spends her time with books, craft and art there occasionally).
[Above, Claudia1967's photo, reproduced with permission: http://www.flickr.com/photos/claudia1967/349173566/]
Sangolda is a scenic village in Bardez, probably equidistant from both state-capital Panjim and the commercial town of Mapusa. For long, like other parts of the ‘Old Conquests’ (the longer-held Portuguese former colonies), many in this village have been migrating far and wide (including globally) to earn a living. But now, with Goa becoming a hot centre for real-estate speculation and second- or third-homes for the affluent, there are pressures on this land too.
Says Goa’s just-out Draft Regional Plan for Goa-2021: “Then there are the ‘second homes’ which are much in demand by people from other parts of India, that are filling up the landscape of Goa. Most of these apartments and houses are left unoccupied for much of the year. This is deeply resented by the local population — and the Task-Force recommends some disincentives that can be considered. As for instance, a higher tax on housing held by non-residents levied by the local panchayat for, say, the first five years.”)
Here’s a rustic shot of the Sangolda-Guirim area taken a few (maybe 3-4) years ago, during a morning walk. It’s still rustic in parts, but the pressures are visible:
More on the setting here:
Over the past fortnight, there were signs of rebuilding going on in parts of the village.
“House renovation” is a notorious clause (or, loophole) in the Goa building laws, which allows someone to take over an old home, build a concrete monstrosity in its place, and claim that the home is being “renovated” or redone!
This is from just alongside the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Retreat, 1983) road:
And here’s another old house which is under the axe. (I used to pass by it almost daily, and read the legend “DFVD D’Souza, 1907″, if I recall right. One can only imagine the work, toil, sweat, tears and heartburn, apart from stories of Goan out-migration, that had gone into building these homes, generations ago):
Incidentally, the fields at Sangolda, not too long ago (maybe a decade back), used to be held up as a show-piece of Goa’s successful agricultural policies. As (younger) journalists, were were shown the “progressive” farmers in the area, and how their work was yielding rich crops. Today, these very places have become spots for the wholesale sale of field-well water … to cope with the tourism, real-estate, industrial and unsustainable hilltop housing booms that Goa is seeing.
Below photo, close to Sangolda, on the Guirim-Saligao end.
And another one of scenic fields, a Goa many fear we would lose in the rush to money, money and GDP.
I often wonder what makes some Goan villages more succesptible than others when it comes to succumbing to the building boom. Is it land-ownership patterns and bhadkarism-munkarism (landlord-tenant) tussles? Is it a corrupt panchayat (village council, waiting to be sold out to the highest bidder)? Is it the mind of the builders and the politicians? (One can’t forget the role of a Parulekar in siting an industrial estate on a hillock of “his” constituency, on very questionable grounds, even while officials and specialists apparently didn’t successfully question such an approach.)
As the above-cited Draft Regional Paln for Goa 2021 says, “There are 20 industrial estates in the State — many of which raise critical issues in regard to siting, infrastructure availability, and the unfortunate mismatch between local skills and jobs available, etc. RP-2021 seeks to rectify the situation by generating appropriate jobs where they are most needed. Firstly, the process of allocation of plots at industrial estates should be extremely transparent and should follow the policies established by the State. The current method leaves much to be desired….”
Just some random thoughts generated by a couple of photos (taken above)….
Teacher Plus is a real interesting venture. This is a “magazine for the contemporary teacher” brought out by Sparks-India and brought out by Sparks-India, Plot 48 (Cellar, Padma Kamalam Apts, Krishnapuri Colony, West Maredpally, Secunderabad 500026 Ph 040-2780 7039. Subscription for a three year period costs just Rs 675, and I was glad I subscribed recently.
Sparks-India calls itself “a publisher dedicated to improving the quality of teaching in India”. It offers printed and other teacher-training material, and children’s books for the class and out-of-class for the “true educational experience”.
Today, they sent me a list of good books from various publishers that they distribute to schools. “Most of these titles have been read and assessed by our team of educationists, and found useful in teaching-learning.” Their website is at http://www.teacherplus.org and can be contacted via email on email@example.com
Among the books offered on their list are titles in English and Telugu, in wide diversity. There were some 1053 titles on the list I received. (Maybe they could put this list online, to make it more sharable.) I’m sure there would be some good titles here. Indian publishing is growing fast these days…. which is a good sign.